Romance

Feb. 2003

It is a cold world for a romantic these days. He witnesses the great potential of living, breathing men and women interacting with each other displaying many of the superficial profits of romance but lacking its true goal.

He sees couples who are devoted to each other but contribute a most specious form of devotion. He regards a jumbled world where men and women who are attracted to each other prove their fondness by acts of defiant antipathy, even insult towards each other. He cringes as men and women actually seek those of their same sex to counter the discord. The romantic may or may not be able to quantify his dispute with modern affairs, but he knows that they are corrupt. He doesn't desire to strike out against those who perpetuate this state, but cannot avoid a direct and instinctive frustration with not only his inability to realize a virtuous relationship of his own, but also with the actions and mentality of the frivolous, promiscuous masses, behaviors that amount to nothing less than blasphemy. His frustration turns inward as he is unable to express his passion externally. He cannot accept the role of romance in society today, but must reject essential components of his romantic vision in order to respond to his anxiety. He becomes bitter at the unrelenting indiscriminateness, turns his back on it all. Despondently, romance is banished from society, with not a defender, not a dreamer to maintain it. Romance can exist despite the overwhelming persuasion offered by the norm. It is with the treatise before you that I will explain how we can overcome the influence of the indiscriminate and return romance to its pure and rightful sacredness.

Distinction must be made concerning the words romance and romantic. The two themes have been exalted in the past, most specifically in the Romantic Age, roughly, the time after Enlightenment and before the Victorian Age. Romanticism, the ethos that accompanied the Romantic Age, is a theme that has versatile impressions not unlike the words, romance and romantic. All words related to romance can represent anything from a reinstitution of religious faith to the emancipation of sexuality—seemingly, they are vastly inconsistent ideas, but both are a product of the Romantic Age.

In general, the age represented a rebuttal to the Enlightenment, just as periods after Romanticism (Moralism, Victorianism) represented a rebuttal to it. The Enlightenment was a period where the western culture shed many superstitions and, thus, in refute, Romanticism looked to embrace some of the older myths and traditions. The notion arose that not everything was explainable by reason as Enlightenment had asserted, and some things had to be left up to emotions, sentiment, faith. An acceptance of religion's reverence of the unknowable was thusly sought. Concurrent to the reaffirmation of faith, many saw the rejection of reason as an excuse to lazily drift through life, the notion of following the heart as a motivation to follow the natural instincts of sexual desire and ultimately a mandate to live a life of hedonism. While many found repose in Romanticism's regaining of religion, the period's excesses proved to be more powerful and eventually defined romance as a selfish, hedonistic endeavor.

When I say romance, I do not mean the Romanticism kind of romance. I believe in the importance of faith as did historical romantics, but also that faith must be reinforced by reason. I acknowledge the significance of the physical passion exalted by early 19th century westerners, but do so only with an emphasis on a parallel decorum.

One take on Romanticism that somehow took a bit from both the faith kind and the hedonism kind and wasn't nearly as prominent until after the period passed was one of idealism. That there is a perfection out there, somewhere, and our duty in life is to attain that essence. This idealist kind of Romanticism is the kind installed during the Victorian Age. It is the one referred to when one calls romantic Theodore Roosevelt for seeking to abolish corruption from politics or John F. Kennedy for seeking to rid America of social injustice or Ronald Reagan for actually humoring the notion that we could live in a world without nuclear weapons during history's highest level of nuclear proliferation. The idealism kind of romance is the kind of romance that I mean when I refer to saving romance.

Most often, this order of Romanticism is regarded as independent from the love kind of romance—the common context of the word. This fact does not go unaddressed in the following text. In fact, it is this distinction that serves as the focus of that text. As I will explain below, it is the union of these two themes, the elevation of relationship romance to idealism that will make possible the virtuous interaction between men and women, society as a whole.

Before we get there, I will explain just why it is that the topic of romance deserves such reassessment—the current state of romance, the consequences of that state and the source of that state. Many might disregard the need for such a reassessment, but instinctively, everyone knows that what our society offers in the realm of romance is wrong. No one can rationally state that the flimsy substitutes of courtship achieve great integrity, nor that the resultant family is at all healthy for the continuation, much less progression of society. It's almost as though they feel obligated to continue the current state of affairs in spite of their natural intuition.

The result is an unfortunate contradiction especially seen in women. The modern woman wants to be seen as more than just sexual, but when offered a chance to prove their caliber in other aspects of life, fail to offer anything else. The modern woman wants her independence, to be her own woman, but still expects a guy to treat her to dinner every night and "act like a gentleman to her." The modern woman will express the desire for men to "sweep her off her feet," but demands so even if she's overweight. The modern woman sings about meeting her ideal guy, the "perfect" guy who thinks only of her, but then expects to find him at the club where she spends hours thrusting pelvises with other guys. She talks of love, but seeks to "hook up" with a guy after a their first couple drinks.

Is it a strange combination of natural, romantic yearning and militant, feminist antipathy that so thoroughly plagues the modern woman? It must be some sort of reverb from these powerful sources. But most women who are at the traditional age of courtship haven't had much exposure to the original feminism or even the feminism of the 1970s—they've only witnessed the effects of it all. Furthermore, I doubt sincerely that many women have avoided a concealment of their natural romantic yearnings, though some of it can be found expressed in the popular culture. What the modern woman sees is a conglomeration of skewed notions that a woman should be an independent non-conformist, especially in the sexual arena—and that a woman is by nature a divine being worthy of utter respect. The reaction to such direction is the belief that women are sexual beings and that they should be worshiped because they provide the world this sexuality. The point of romance, then, as it is expressed in modern society, is sex.

With this premise, there is certainly no place for a true romantic. Consider a romantic gentleman in this dawn of the 21st century. His ethos surely consists in the two notions that there is but one soul mate in the world with whom he should seek a relationship and that a virtuous relationship with that individual is one of the most important things, if not the only distinguished intention in life. In an age when sex serves as the goal of relationships, he is befuddled. One can surely have sex with anyone one is so inclined to have sex with, not just the one soul mate. Moreover, the act of sex, though powerful in itself, is short-lived and most commonly a mere physical effort; the romantic knows of greater goals even if they are seemingly directly unrelated to the union with another.

With this confusion, he exists only with unassertive demeanor or annoying apprehension. This is so because, to a romantic gentleman of charm and dignity, a beautiful girl may potentially be his soul mate, to whom he would devote all his chivalrous attention in effort to unite the two in a quest for love. Such an effort could readily be ambushed and the the gentleman easily convicted as an immature, antiquated sociopath if the girl subscribes to modern romance. The likelihood of such an encounter's drastic consequences compels the romantic to retreat feebly or not even try in the first place. He cannot deny his hope that romance may exist, but to defend true romance or the notion of courtship might seem like nothing less than a denouncement of his object's own pseudo-principles—the prospect that would doubtless end hopes of connecting with his potential soul mate.

His alternative in effort to make this true romantic connection is undesirable and unpractical. He notices how the guys who present a carelessness about their endeavor to "pick up girls" often get the chance to interact sincerely with women. The cool guys emphasize the notion that sex is all that matters, so the romantic realizes that he may annex the popular sense of romance and thereby gain the attention of his object. Once attained, that connection may serve as necessary tool to persuade her to believe the true canon of romance and thereby produce true romance. This would be time consuming and likely to contradict the subject's moral principles. Moreover the method's success is only guaranteed if the subject has the ability to pull off the impersonation flawlessly without noticeable inconsistencies. Once successful, however, the scheduled subsequent persuasion towards true romance will be an explicit inconsistency with the behavior that originally captured his objective. Realization of this inconsistency may well result in withdrawal from the relationship by the sought party.

To attain what should serve as a romantic partner, then, requires the complete abandonment of romantic ideals, an act after which no romance is at all likely. Hence, the romantic gentleman is abolished from society one way or the other.

The fact that I am a romantic is not the only reason why a romantic-less condition is unfavorable to me. I care for society as a whole and the elimination of true romance, the abandonment of courtship between gentlemen and ladies is unfavorable for society as a whole. The concept of a man and woman devoted to each other is central to any long-term successful human civilization. Such a relationship is integral to the effective nourishment of a family, the integral component of a civilization. Without romance, the leadership of families is fragmented and a civilization tends to implode. A more explicit illustration of this threat can be more precisely delineated as follows.

When the image of the romantic gentleman is slandered, men are forced to find other, usually hazardous means to access their natural objective in females. That is, as a gentleman consists in stoicism and decorousness, the rejection of gentlemanliness would be a rejection of these two fundamental things. The result of this rejection is either barbarism, the opposite of decorousness, or effeminacy and weakness, the opposite of stoicism. The majority of males choose the former because with it, less of his nature is oppressed. In fact some natural instincts, which unfortunately commonly get mistaken for one's nature, are encouraged as is the case in indiscriminate sexual behavior and general neglect of restraint when it comes to other vices. Though effeminacy doesn't imply the complete abrogation of propriety like barbarism does, the effeminate man is not free from disregarding social standards either. The utility some find with this latter alternative is not the indulgence of one's physical urges, but rather, the social gain that is received by anyone who increases the diversity of that society. Revolting against social standards has become socially acceptable, and thus, male effeminacy is socially encouraged. The risk of failure is usually enough to turn the average man away and hence, this latter option is the less common.

Most men take advantage of both options, using barbarism when opportunities for unruliness come about and effeminacy when opportunities to display his "culture" show up. The result is an apathetic, hedonistic male citizen. To observe the record of these repercussions, simply browse the magazine selection of the local bookstore. To observe the ultimate consequences of these repercussions, simply browse the headlines of the local newspaper.

Beyond the extreme effects of men being force-fed this irreparable choice—barbarism or effeminacy—and cause to those extremes, the effect of romance lost on women is not at all appealing either. It is actually more adverse despite its relative inconspicuousness. The way women are harmed by the loss of romance is two-fold.

First, the stature of women plummets upon the triumph of a man's recourses to gentlemanliness. By effeminacy, the woman becomes nothing more than a nuisance, but more likely an antagonist. As the sissy effectively replaces the woman in behavior, she no longer holds value in the eyes of that man. Her presence implies encroachment and by whatever means—probably psychological—the effeminate man removes her from the arena.

By barbarism, the woman becomes nothing more than physical parts by which the barbarian may rapaciously satisfy his urges. The barbarian's effort to attain women may be embroidered—by women—to be seen as high regard for the female sex. Any woman wants to be wanted and without alternatives, barbarism may actually appear to be an adoration for women. But they are his urges on which the barbarian focuses, not the incidental flesh that accomplishes their satisfaction. As women lower their standards and begin to accept men who don't even offer the veneer of respect, this truth will be evident in the sinking consideration granted to the bearer of the barbarians' goal.

To great extent, this disrespect is seen already—just listen to any group of men and women out for casual drinking at the local bar. To their faces and with great encouragement by women, men will scandalize the women of the group using words that would be considered cause for social ejection half a century ago. Women wear shirts that proclaim their status as wanton and, if for nothing else, for the sake of humor, write themselves off as mere sexual objects. It would seem that compared to this direct, authorized insult, the lack of opening doors for and offering coats to the fairer sex is a bearable loss. The fact that men generally dress slovenly during dates when women dress at least admirably is not even consciously acknowledged.

The second reason that women are harmed by the state of masculinity rests in compound of the truth that women require men socially—they desire the company of men by nature—and the fact that they do not like the state of masculinity as described above. Ask the average woman if they like the fact that men dress more than otherwise like 1970s junior high school dropouts or that they ridicule the gentleman who opens a door for a woman or that men refer to them with a word that also is used to describe female canines. Although many women participate in this ridiculous behavior, if one was confronted with the sober question whether they truly like it or would rather be treated differently, the resultant conclusions would be that women as a whole aren't happy with the state of masculinity.

Whether they would be happy to return to any former standard of custom is not immediately discernible. Most women, even the younger ones, scuffle with the a notion that a return to, for instance, pre-1960s courtship would be an automatic return to a time when women were beaten nightly and couldn't go to school. They sincerely want a more respectable man, but with the firm belief that such a man would be accompanied by oppression disallows the modern woman this wish resulting in a disillusioned or otherwise saddened woman.

Not only does she have to put up with a behavior that she doesn't like, the modern woman is actually forced to promote it. Women's liberation, so powerfully instilled in women by the 1960s and '70s feminists, is actually linked to the encouragement of the rapacious man. Somehow, the notion that a woman could match a man in academia and the work force got translated to the notion that a woman should be equal to the man in his aggressiveness socially and sexually. With that being the case, women forced themselves to accept to a greater extent the barbarism of their counterparts. Of course, acceptance could be mistaken for submission and so, to prove that they were equal, they had to encourage it and often participate as well.

The modern woman is coerced into advocating the barbarian or sissy, moreover, due to innate feminine instincts and her inability to separate the image of the cool man with that of the good man. More specifically, the modern woman regards the social landscape and notices that most successful men are cool, whether they first become cool or if coolness follows success. Understanding that success is required to treat a woman the way she thinks she deserves to be treated, which is based in a natural urge to mate with a secure man, the modern woman therefore seeks the cool man. In this regard, the cool man is the good man.

But to be cool is not simply to act indifferent, it is to have complete disregard for any social standard and decorum—to vilify gentlemanliness. Though the cool man could do this by a number of methods, the outcome will likely be the same: barbarism or effeminacy. And so, due to a woman's natural urge to mate with a strong and secure man, a good man, she is relegated to mate with a weak or haphazard man, a bad man.

This conflict undoubtedly builds inside the woman, inside the man and usually between the two. A woman feels she is doing everything her instincts tell her, but her prize is not what she expected. She then pushes away the thing that she thought she wanted, much to the dismay of her counterpart who was basically doing everything he was told to do by her. Women hold the power in a given relationship. In this model of social intercourse, it is women who chose a man, not the other way around and for this reason, the upper hand rests in the women. The woman's power is the source of an adequate amount of freedom and thus, the woman feels less stress by this conflict. She may be disheartened or disillusioned, but she is at least making choices. On the other hand, men have minimal freedom when faced with the festering romantic contradiction and, coupled with their innate irascibility, have more impetus to revolt.

Revolts that make the headlines can be difficult to trace back to the conflict proposed above, but for two reasons, the source is it indeed. First of all, romance, or one's need for affection in some form is the most prominent social need. Accepted is the notion that a mate is integral to a person's happiness and often is the support of this mate considered all the support one needs to further advance into more successful endeavors. Thus, any degree of romance is the most integral social component. It is also the case that social needs are the focus of the majority of Americans today. Where fewer than half a percent of Americans are without food and shelter, very little of our attention is directed to physiological needs. Other than physiological and social needs humans maintain instincts to create and actuate their own purpose—a goal which has been ravished over the course of the anti-hero century. As neither physiological or self-actualization needs occupy our concentration, the social is consigned as the prominent need of our society. As such, the quest for affection, the quest so distraught by contradiction, serves as the prominent goal in one's life.

Secondly, this conflict of impulses in the young man regarding romantic interests is a mere facet of a greater conflict between opposing directives on exactly what a young man should be in general. Just as women encourage the barbarian or sissy in relation to them, society as a whole encourages either of these in relation to everyone with which the man socializes—in arenas professional, athletic, academic, service. Indeed, to be a gentleman is more than just courtesy and courtship devoted to a specific woman, it is a decorum and stoicism that extend to every aspect of a man's life. It is the gentleman who offers to walk an old lady across the street, who listens with intent to fellow conversationalists without barking something that will hopefully be construed as funny, but at least very cool. Just as gentlemanliness extends to all facets of life, so too does barbarism and effeminacy in its stead—so too does the precarious conflict barbarism and effeminacy create.

It is the general rejection of gentlemanliness that is the cause for a widespread plague of extreme revolts, as I have described them, the kind of revolts that end up on the newspapers. With a standard of the gentleman, a man's honor is proven by his ability to tender the decorum and stoicism that characterize him. His motivations in life rest in the proper facility of society and resistance to physical indulgences. Upon the approach of conflict, the gentleman cannot escape these fundamental characteristics if only for fear of exile from society and thus is forced to find a solution to the conflict which maintains high social standards and benefits everyone involved, not just himself. As an extreme recourse, if the gentleman is unable to resolve the conflict easily, it may be acceptable for him to use drastic measures, but his determination in propriety will disallow these drastic measures to affect innocent bystanders.

Contrarily, without the standards of the gentleman, it is possible and therefore likely to disrupt social utility when conflict arises. The modern man does not regard the bystanders, he is too involved in the emotions that control his body. To resolve a conflict, then, he will use any means possible to make himself feel better even if it means severely reckless, even homicidal or suicidal will. Since conflict does so commonly occur in this contemporary model and when it does, being the crux of his life, the modern man is quite likely to erupt.

The questions that follow, then, are how and why has gentlemanliness been eliminated from society? Was it a necessary eradication or something that we could have done without? Finally, seeing as how the result of the eradication is something that is highly undesirable, what can we do to reinstate it? To examine these questions, I must explore the evolution of femininity.

Despite the so-called "triumphs" of feminism, from suffrage to Norma McCorvey, women have always been the weaker of the two sexes. Over the course of human existence, nothing has changed the fact that women are less physically capable than men are. There has, however, been a change in the perception of women's capabilities and the strength the sex possesses as a whole over time and when I regard the evolution of femininity, it is this perception's evolution that will be my focus.

The assumption these days is that the perception of femininity has become more positive since the 1950s. Women are not only able to go to school and maintain their own careers, but they are expected to compete with men in almost any facet of life as if to imply equality between the two genders. The image of women today is of the independent, qualified, intelligent career girl, which is considered good especially compared with the oppressed, uneducated house-ridden image of the 1950s', or more appropriately, the 1870s woman. The status of a woman is much higher according to popular opinion and therefore, women are better off now than they were in previous cultures.

Contrary to this assumption, though I concede many benefits have resulted from the feminist movement over the last hundred years, the modern woman is much more worse off today than she was before. Sure the modern woman is free to get whatever education she wants, but there is no direction on that education; sure she is free sexually, but her freedom has led to an unrelenting compulsion to be a sex object; and though the modern woman is emboldened to be a part of the work force, her absence from child rearing has left a parent-shaped hole in the American family. Women have always been the weaker of the two sexes, but it was the abandonment of this fact's acknowledgement that made it a hindrance to female ambition—as the perception of women went from weak to strong, the weaknesses of women became exposed and hence taken advantage of by men and a cruel society.

This is so for one major reason. It is that with perception of women's weakness, a fortification was set up around her by men of her family and society in general in order to protect her. Regardless of a woman's own strength, physically or mentally, she was strong by the protection of this fort. No man could dare impose on the lady for fear of the repercussions by her protectors. Only when a man was suitable for courtship could he seek the company of the lady.

The results of this fortress were twofold: control by the fortress and respectability of the woman. Each of these results yielded yet two more results that pertain directly to the modern state of gentlemanliness and finally romance as a whole. Firstly, the men who protected the woman most likely did so on their terms and most likely chose by whom their lady would be courted. As such, no unfitting man could likely court her, but the woman's own preference of mate was subordinate at best. Secondly, the woman, extricated from the worries of social complication was able to concentrate her efforts on her own refinement. As such, the woman was limited to a specific personality, but was able to become a lady worthy of a gentleman suitor. The ultimate outcome was a woman who was excellent in manners and who deserved and likely achieved a mate of high character, but one who was limited to the dictates of her male family members and reserved to low enterprise.

The latter characteristics, negative by any standard, were enough catalyst to instigate the feminist movements of the 20th century. It was understandably not acceptable to have the freedom of women so obviously oppressed and so, women moved to obtain that freedom. This struggle's origin and buttressment in the United States coincided with and was fronted by the women's suffrage movement which had an anecdotal start in 1776 when Abigail Adams told her husband, John, to "remember the ladies" with regard to the writing of the Declaration of Independence, which stated "all men are created equal." In 1923 when the 19th amendment of the constitution was ratified, the US followed New Zealand (1893), Norway and Denmark (1914), Finland (1916) and Sweden (1919) in "remembering" women.

Around this time period most major nations and all industrialized ones except for France (1944) allowed women to vote. The accomplishment was a threshold of the liberation of women. Fashion reflected the emancipation. Underscoring the movement was the advent of very loose fitting dresses that also featured bottoms that rested mid-calf, even at the knee. Waists lowered and silhouettes became flat in women's apparel, trends that synchronized with the bob haircut to renounce the femininity of the Victorian culture.

In cosmopolitan communities, "flappers" began to go on dates without chaperones, wear plenty makeup and maintain their own jobs. The number of female undergraduates doubled from 1910 to 1920. As it happened, suffrage was merely the symbol for the complete emancipation of women which would not be completely realized until the latter half of the 20th century. Despite the relative sluggishness of the movement, it did come to fruition, and now, we live in a society where women play a major role in the leadership and success of our world. Just regard Margaret Thatcher who was elected as the first female prime minister of a European country in 1979 and whose success carried her in landslides the following two elections.

The success achieved by women in the 20th century was not without its drawbacks. The freedom gained by the feminists of the period was withheld from women in the 19th century as a part of the binary cultural custom of courtship. The fort, as I described it, was restrictive of the lady inside but was also protective of her. The decorum so expected of her was limiting, but so too was it healthy. As the fort was culturally abolished, women gained the opportunity to vote, learn and date without a chaperone but they also gained the burden of protecting themselves physically and mentally. Such a burden might well lead to the reduction of female refinement and open the door to uncivil behavior toward her.

This concession was not disregarded through the waves of feminism. Contrarily, the notion of an unrespectable or promiscuous woman had to have been on the minds of many vocal feminists and might well have been applauded for two reasons. The first was that the goal of many feminists was not necessarily freedom, or even emancipation, but rather, equality. In the oppressed mindstate, whatever goals the oppressors have independent from their austerity, are not necessarily understood. Without knowledge of the benefits of freedom, they cannot be true goals. What is obvious to the oppressed is the fact that they are oppressed and the oppressors are better off than they. The goal, hence, becomes the attainment of whatever state in which the oppressor resides—equality with the oppressor.

While women were encouraged to seek equality with men, the male cultural pacesetters were busy deconstructing the culture. With absurdity reigning in the arts, science and technology, the men—at least the men who women sought to equal, the men of the growing pop culture, the Philip Marlowe kind of men—made clear their antithetical attitudes. To be equal to the men of the period was to share in this antagonism and thus, the average feminist celebrated the Vivian Rutledge kind of women.

To regard the sitcoms today the feminist goal of equality has been a resounding success. No longer do women have to put up with some authoritative man who keeps her from going to school and working 60 hour weeks just like the men. No longer do women have to put up with social double standards that dictate women to be chaste and virginal while men get to sleep with every woman they see. Victory can be found in the accomplishments pop singers who parade around half nude proclaiming what a girl wants as if to imply that her sexual satisfaction is the only goal a man should have. Fulfillment is encountered when a woman feels bold enough to pinch a man's rear in a bar and list requirements for her attention as a fat wallet and other fat components. Triumph is seen in the sensationalized headlines plastered over the popular women's magazines of the day—"37 ways to cheat on your husband." Hooray! Women have finally made it!

Not going undiscovered within the dreadful fruit of feminism is the irony that men have wanted nothing more than to live in a society when women strive to copulate as much as men do. With the removal of the fort of romance, it was not the women who were liberated, but the men. Now, it is not only accepted that women go on dates without chaperones, it is encouraged that they go all the way in a one night stand. With the removal of romance and the supposed liberation of women, it could be said that a restriction on women's freedom more adamant than that of the 1880s has been forced. It is not the the freedom to say "yes" that has been denied in this new restriction, but rather the freedom to say "no." Now it is the prudish woman who is stigmatized, not the loose trollop.

Consider the difference between the options of a modern woman and Victorian lady in a social circumstance where the woman is being pursued one evening by a man in which she is uninterested. The Victorian lady can swiftly say without abandoning her grace, that her brothers will likely put a violent end to his intrusion or her father would certainly rebuke her if he knew of it. She could appeal to his intentions of being a gentleman and denote that restraint would only benefit him. She could also say without steering too far from believability that she would prefer to wait on any courtship or maybe sometime down the line would be better. She could drop hints of rejection or dissuade without being rude or incredible.

On the other hand, if a girl is approached my a man these days, she is almost forced to be rude in order to avoid being ridiculed or otherwise harmed herself. She cannot hint at a desire for prolonged courtship because then she would be a prude. Any attempt to bring her dad or brothers into the picture would fall well short of believability and render the modern girl unusually helpless thus prompting the candidate to prey with more confidence. An appeal for gentlemanliness would be laughed at. Finally, to reject the pursuer directly would directly signal her distaste for him. This insult could either result in dejecting the man or angering him, neither of which should sound favorable to the good-intentioned woman.

Though a case cannot be made that a woman's freedom was unlimited in the 1880s, a case could be made that the restrictions she faced then were less offensive and healthier for her than are the restrictions she faces today. The modern woman is encouraged to accept and promote, almost as an obligation to some tyranny of equality and rejection of righteousness, sexual behavior even with men in whom she is not interested resulting in nothing less than the conflict described above.

The modern woman is a contradiction in herself. Half dictated by a hangover from the feminist independence movement of the Boomer generation, half commanded by the officious standard of indiscriminate sexuality of the Spears-Aguillera fold and constantly nudged by an abstract, innate motherliness, the modern woman finds herself being pulled in many directions at once.

And here we are, about as far from romance as a society can be. Perpetually inviting a desecrated social intercourse and completely oblivious to the terrible effects of it, how to stop it or the amazing alternative we have available. Young men and women and not-so-young men and women, are unable to find a recourse and accept with as much selfish pleasure as possible our dire predicament.

Oh, but it could be so much more! It wrenches my soul to watch these beautiful people participating in the self-deprecating activities of modern romance conceiving what marvels await the kindred few who relinquish their hedonistic quests and, perhaps even social standing, for a more lofty goal—one that is singularly possible through the true canons of romance. So, what is this true essence of romance and how can we achieve it?

It could be sufficient to regard the act of bowing and curtsying or any of the behaviors that go along with chivalry or refinement as romantic. To do so would be inconclusive and wouldn't access the intent or objective of those practicing these romantic things. To neglect the aim of romance would surely be to neglect romance itself. To uncover the true purpose of romance one could examine the material in modern society that reflects qualities of the period of high romance, one to which I have referred commonly throughout this piece—the Victorian Period—and compare the two. By doing this, one would discover what it is that makes someone romantic and witness what makes this period decidedly unromantic, thus enabling us a direct path toward a romantification of society.

One could find an instance of culture with heavy romantic themes in the Smashing Pumpkins' 1997 project, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. The name itself recalls notions popular in the late 19th century of melancholy and the idea of longing underscored by many Victorian works. The imagery included in the CD and especially the video for the anchor single of the project, "Tonight, Tonight," was intentionally retrospective. Employing the art and the style and fashion of 1890s and using effects to imply early film technology, the work immediately alludes to the highly romantic time. Moreover, the video in regard, communicates the old-fashioned story of hero and villain, a damsel in distress and travel to wild, exotic corners of the universe—reminiscent of any romantic story. The lyrics consummate the romantic thesis with passionate words like infinite, everything and forever.

Looking closer into the lyrics, though one will notice other themes which actually seemed to contradict these romantic notions. Talk of oppression, being different and being weird. These themes, though very common in modern society even with respect to romance, are far from the traditional romance of Victorianism.

The inconsistency in Mellon Collie implies the struggle between the two forces present in anyone who desires affection from someone else. There is first the urge to serve, with a member of the opposite sex, a greater sense of something almost as if it is an innate urge. There is also, however, this belief that the essence of that something greater is to be cool, discorded, amoral, self-destructive. The urge, seemingly present in the Victorian age as well as today, is unbound to any specific behaviors or practices. This means that what serves as the urge's perceived aim dictates the way people satisfy the urge. Considering the modern notion of the urge's aim, coolness, discord, etc., we cannot be surprised that the way people satisfy the urge is through the glacial sexuality portrayed in pop culture. If the goal of romance is coolness, discord, amorality and self-destruction, then indiscriminate sex, injurious speech, disrespect and selfish hedonism all fit the role of achieving romance quite well.

Late 19th century culture did not see the goal of romance as does modern culture if only because the practices of romance were nothing like those of today. Victorians strove to satisfy the innate romantic urge by chivalry, refinement, grace and courtship. Romantic practices from that period were saturated with giving and anticipation and aspiration—quite opposite to the self indulgent recklessness of today's romantic practices. Since the Victorians did not achieve romance the same way as today, and we are to agree that the period was not without the innate urge, we should establish that Victorians saw a different goal in the union of man and woman—specifically, something that opposes coolness, discord, amorality and self-destruction.

As the modern period is thoroughly unromantic, the notions of coolness, discord, amorality and self-destruction, the themes that make Mellon Collie inconsistent, should be considered unromantic themselves. To find the opposite of unromanticness—romance—then, one would need to survey that which contrasts these characteristics.

To begin, the opposite of cool would be warm, not in temperature, but in social climate. As coolness implies indifference and a general antipathy towards anything virtuous or productive, this warmness would include ardency toward things virtuous and productive. The opposite of discord would be harmony; the opposite of amorality is morality; and self-destruction, self-creation. When we combine these goals, warmness, harmony, morality and self-creation, we have a thorough characterization of the true purpose of romance. So, what do these represent? What is the true purpose of uniting man and woman? God.

Romance is a mutual effort between man and woman to attain God. The characteristics I accounted as romantic, warmness, harmony, morality and self-creation are all direct instances of godliness. To ardently strive for things virtuous and productive is to ardently strive for God. The collective harmony between souls is equal to God. The acknowledgement of good and evil is the first step to making a decision to reach God. Creativity is the direct link from God to us and to create would then be godly. The reason romance seems so distraught these days is because the aim of the intimate interaction between man and woman has been shifted away from God to something exactly opposite.

Victorian romantics knew the purpose of romance, just as they knew the purpose of decorum, technology and statecraft. All should be directed to God. The notion is clear when regarding the themes of true romance that have somehow lasted, even through an age of skewed intent like ours. Consider the notion of doing anything for another person or perhaps dying for one's mate. When life is subordinate to a love between two people, acknowledged is the fact that there is something greater than wine and sex. That something greater is God. Consider the notion of love at first sight. When a certainty of a singular, perfect mate is formulated in the first contact between two people in and age of drastic skepticism, a bold assertion on fate and faith is made. Consider, finally, the notion of two becoming one in marriage. It is the joining of man and woman into "one flesh" that returns man and woman to the Garden of Eden, to the pure state of godliness.

These are the models of romance that cannot submit to a culture in neglect of God. These are the underlying intuitions that assure us there is something out there other than sex and drugs and coolness worth devoting our efforts to. Our innate goal is to reach God, not through the chaotic, indiscriminate methods popular today, but through a sincere, mutual drive for virtue, through shared harmony, morality and creativity. We reach God through romance.